Hearts and efforts need training

By: 

There are several efforts underway by the Barnwell County Emergency Management Division (EMD) in cooperation with other organizations to help save lives and provide comfort in the event of an emergency.

During an emergency, time is a critical factor. In widespread disasters, such as ice storms and hurricanes, the professionals are called out to several locations. Just getting to the scene may take time due to blocked roads from downed trees or washed out highways.

This is where local, trained volunteers can make a huge differnce.

The EMD, the Blackville Fire Department and resident Norma Rockwell teamed up to train eight volunteers to be members of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

CERT members are not professional responders but may be the first on the scene of emergency events, such as the recent tornado. They are trained in triage, fire safety, and team organization.

These folks can take important first steps in responding to an emergency to prepare for the arrival of EMTs, firefighters and disaster response.

The new CERT in the Blackville-Hilda area is just the start of what Rockwell and Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley hope will be a county-wide organization of neighborhood teams.

We want to thank those volunteers who have just completed their training and those who invested their time and efforts to develop this first CERT in Barnwell County.

Responding to disaster is not only the job of professionals and the CERT. The American Red Cross is also tasked with assisting victims of local home fires as well as responding to major events.

The need for local volunteers came into sharp focus last year during the evacuation of the East Coast of South Carolina in preparation for Hurricane Matthew.

The American Red Cross is supposed to open and maintain shelters. Due to a shortage of trained volunteers, local employees of the Department of Social Services stepped in to open maintain a shelter in Barnwell which eventually housed evacuees.

These DSS folks got support from local churches, law enforcement, Barnwell Elementary School personnel, EMS and EMD and they did a fantastic job. They handled the crisis with care and compassion.

In addition, a Red Cross volunteer from a northern state was designated by the regional ARC office to be the liason at the Emergency Management “bunker” at the Barnwell County Courthouse. While this person was trained and dedicated, he wasn’t from here and didn’t know where to quickly find resources.

Again, this brought into focus the need for local, trained American Red Cross volunteers who not only know the procedures for getting things done, but also the intimate grasp of the local community and where to direct people and resources to make the greatest impact.

Axis 1 and Barnwell County EMD are teaming up to organize such training. Watch for opportunities to train.

March is American Red Cross month. More information about how people can support the organization is available on redcross.org/sc.

In addition, local churches are frequently sought out for refuges. Some churches are somewhat prepared to handle the situation while others are not despite a willingness to help.

Later this month, EMD director Roger Riley is organizing a disaster training and is reaching out to local churches.

He has requested that each faith-based organization identify two members from their church to attend this training. In the event of a natural disaster every church will have a contact who will know what is to be done and by whom. Barnwell County will have a phone tree and other things in place in the event it is needed.

We encourage local churches to particpate and contact Riley regarding this training.

Training to respond to disasters means less panic, better use of resources and more effective assistance.

Barnwell County residents have a deep sense of compassion and are willing to help their neighbors. We get that. But sometimes their efforts go a bit sideways because they don’t realize their good-hearted efforts may create big-headache results.

Training is vital. Getting that training takes an investment in time but the dividend in the event of a disaster is huge.

We ask each of our readers to consider getting training, either as a CERT member or American Red Cross disaster volunteer.

Not only will your heart be in the right place, but your efforts will be too.